Six free social media sleuthing tools for journalists and other inquisitive types

Social media sleuthing. Sounds kinda ominous, right? Not really. Nothing about social media sleuthing is illegal. It has nothing to do with hacking. It simply entails using freely available search tools to more usefully sift through publicly-accessible information that’s online. What you actually do with that information is, of course, entirely up to you.

Good ol’ Urban Dictionary suggests that a proper sleuth “needs to be intelligent, witty, and always a few steps ahead others. In fact, he never reveals all his discoveries or conclusions.”

Well, we’re going to ignore the last bit of that and tell you about some useful social media sleuthing tools we’ve discovered. Many people don’t realise that everything they do online leaves a digital footprint of sorts. With the right know-how, these footprints can be traced. For your own sanity, we’re not encouraging you to go digging up the past of your ex (or current!).

The aim of this post, and highlighting these tools, is to bring attention to the fact that Facebook (and other platforms) hold more data about you (and others) than you might realise. This can be hugely helpful to people like journalists who need to find sources who match certain criteria, or more information about a particular source. Sometimes, digging a little deeper into social media data can result in a key piece of additional info — or even a fresh new angle — that no-one else has (un)covered, which is journalistic gold!

We presented these tools at the African Investigative Journalism Conference 2018. Subsequently, JAMLAB wrote a story about the session, detailing the tools that we covered. We’re going to go ahead and send you over to their post on Medium, where all the tools are mentioned. Give it a read here

Happy sleuthing. Don’t be evil.

If you or your organisation need a helping hand with all things social media, please do contact us 🙂 


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